Category Archives: Uncategorized

Of rats, mice, and New Zealand

A few days ago I tweeted a link to a blogpost from Te Papa about nineteenth century mice. Essentially, and I recommend reading the post yourself, they sequenced DNA from mouse and rat remains from early nineteenth century archaeological deposits … Continue reading

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Bile Beans

For seventeen or so years of my life, I lived in York, in England, and one of the local landmarks was the Bile Beans sign on the side of a building in Lord mayor’s walk, just outside of the city … Continue reading

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How an ambrotype might have survived 150 years at the bottom of the ocean

A few days ago I retweeted a story from the Observer on ambrotypes recovered from the wreck of the SS Central America, a ship carrying gold miners back from California to New York. There was, of course, no Panama Canal  … Continue reading

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The Ocean Telegraph to India

I’ve been rereading Peter Hopkirk’s book on the Great Game in parallel with my rereading of Fred Burnaby’s A ride to Khiva (Google Books have a good copy of the latter – Peter Hopkirk’s book only appears to be available … Continue reading

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Nineteenth century pharmaceutical packaging and letterlocking

A few months ago letter locking was very much in the news with the digital unlocking of Mary Queen of Scots last letter. Yesterday, when I was down at Chiltern, I came across an interesting application of a quasi letterlocking … Continue reading

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Fred Burnaby and Cockle’s Pills

Captain Fred Burnaby was a Victorian adventurer and balloonist, chiefly remembered today for his epic horse rides across Anatolia and Central Asia. I’ve never quite made up my mind whether he undertook these rides with tacit approval as part of … Continue reading

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The diary of William Holland

I’ve just finished reading Paupers and Pig Killers, Jack Ayres’ edition of William Holland’s diary. William Holland was a parson in Somerset around the turn of the nineteenth century and kept a diary for the first few years of the … Continue reading

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St Kilda Cemetery

In Melbourne, at the corner of Dandenong Road and Hotham Street, lies St Kilda Cemetery. I’ve driven past it hundreds of times, and never stopped to look, but today I did. J was doing something else, so I hopped on … Continue reading

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Did the Victorians have pubic hair?

The short answer is, of course they did, but if you were to go on the evidence of paintings alone you might be forgiven for thinking that Victorian women did not have pubic hair. This clearly was not the case. … Continue reading

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Sort of an Indiana Jones moment

I was on a beach a few days ago, birdwatching, when I noticed a small corroded metal disk stuck in a crack. “Wow, a coin!” I thought, and did what anyone else would and picked it up. Well the face … Continue reading

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